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Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Luna Park, North Sydney and Hokkaido Milk Buns with Red Bean Paste (with tangzhong)

Over the weekend I finally had time to upload photos from my CF card (containing photographs I took while I was in Sydney almost 2 months ago) onto my computer. It made me feel a little sad, because those days were so carefree and for the month I was there, it was the first time when I didn't have to study because I had no exams sit for and there was no work to worry about, because work had not started. I basically did what I loved - planning for my meals, shopping for ingredients, and cooking for my loved one :] We also found time to go for holidays and attend church on the weekend. 

It's been a long time since I went to church in Singapore, but I must say that the people at CCC made me feel so welcome. I enjoyed the services because well, the sermons were about church history and me being a history/knowledge buff, I practically soaked up the information on the reformation period. Everyone was so friendly and inclusive that I decided to bake a couple of cakes and cookies each time I attended church. I must admit that I had an ulterior motive, because all those people at church just meant for guinea pigs for my baking, but well, I felt good because everyone only had good comments for the stuff I baked heh :]

To start off, I decided to stay safe and stick with stuff I knew, so I made a hokkaido milk buns with red bean filling. I knew that this would be popular because soft Asian-style breads in Australia don't come cheap and well, most of the people at church were Asians, some of whom have been born in Australia, some of whom are studying in Australia for a couple of years.

CCC is over at Milsons Point, which is in North Sydney. The view of the Sydney Opera House you see above, is from Milsons Point. The only other way of getting the same view is to take a ferry from Circular Quay to places on the other side, to Watsons Bay and the like. The north shores of Sydney are not much of a tourist attraction, which perhaps explains why I have never step foot to places like Chatswood (a very Asian-populated area) and North Ryde. There's lots of good Asian food there, with huge shopping malls that Singaporeans and Malaysians are acquainted with, but I think I very much prefer Sydney on the other side of the river. 

Because it was winter, it was pretty cold most of the time, but on my last visit to church, I decided that I should head out to the area regardless and take some photographs. Looking at the photograph above, you would think that it's spring in Sydney, but the outfits of the two ladies reminds you noooooo it is winter and with the winds blowing in  your face, it's effing cold! I snapped a couple of quick photographs around the area before heading to Luna Park to take a snap of its very iconic entrance. 

Luna Park is an amusement park which has a history stretching back to the 1930s, which explains why the entrance is so...well 1930s. It gives me the impression of old-school amusement parks in America, even though I've never been to America and have never seen an amusement park there. 

I particularly like the two photographs above, the left has been processed to evoke what I think is a 1930s mood, and the right has been changed to black and white just because. I like how the face of the clown is nicely reflected in the puddle (it had rained earlier) on the ground. There was a father with his son of about 6 years of age, and I particularly enjoyed listening in to their conversation. The father was standing a couple of meters beside me when I was taking the photograph, and having spotted me squatting and taking a photograph of the puddle, the reflection and the entrance, he took the opportunity  to teach his child something about science. He first asked his son what he saw when he looked into the puddle of water and then explained how this reflection came about. There is so much to learn everywhere, and I really admire the dad for showing his child that, at such a young age. I would want to be such a parent, if I ever have a child in the future.

So back to my hokkaido milk buns with red bean filling (北海道牛奶紅豆麵包). I decided to use a japanese style hokkaido milk bread recipe, because I wanted to make full use of the delicious tasting cream I had in Sydney. 

Instead of following the proportions in Christine's recipe above, I decided to modify it a little, to fit the proportions that I am used to.

Hokkaido Milk Toast
Makes 1 500g loaf or 8 medium sized buns

270g bread flour
30 g all-purpose flour
40g sugar
½ tsp (4g) salt
1 tsp (5g) yeast
45-50g egg (without shell)
40g heavy cream (at least 35% fat)
30g full fat milk
100g tangzhong*
25g unsalted butter

*Check this post if you don't know what is tangzhong and how to make it (for 100g, you need to heat about 20g of flour with 100g of water)

To make them into red bean buns, you will need about 500g of red bean paste. I used a storebought one when I was in Australia. I recommend getting the red bean paste from DAISO for those in Singapore/Malaysia. Do get the packet of anko which is produced in Japan and not China.


  1. If using a bread machine, follow directions as per your machine, but add the tangzhong together with the flour. If kneading by hand or mixer, place the sugar, salt, bread flour, all-purpose flour and yeast into a large mixing bowl. Then, add milk, cream and egg into the bowl and knead until a rough dough is formed. Add in the softened unsalted butter and knead well, until the dough no longer sticks to your fingers but is slightly tacky.
  2. Shape the dough into a ball and cover it. Allow it to proof for about 60 minutes or until doubled.
  3. Punch down the dough and divide it into pieces weighing 60g each. Allow the balls to rest for about 10 minutes before attempting to shape them. In the meantime, measure out 30-40g of red bean paste (how much depends on how much red bean you like. I used 30g) and roll them into an equal number of balls.
  4. On a lightly floured surface, flatten a dough ball into a round disk. Place the ball of red bean paste in the middle of the disk and wrap the filing with the dough. Pinch the ends together to ensure that each dough ball is completely sealed. Then using your palms, slightly flatten each ball until you get a flat round disk of about 5-8cm thick. Using a sharp knife or scissors, snip the edges of the disk. I made 6 snips to get 6 petals. Be sure to make very deep cuts all around the dough because as the dough proofs, the cuts will become shallower.
  5. Allow the 'flowers' to proof for another 30 minutes or until they have increased about 1.5 times in size. Brush the top of each flower with some egg wash or milk if desired.
  6. Bake in a preheated oven of 180°C for about 22 - 25 minutes, or until golden brown. Remove from oven and allow to cool on a wire rack for at least 30 minutes before consuming. 

Janine's jots: 
  • Note: I kinda overbaked the breads because they are NOT supposed to be this brown. You should keep an eye on what you're baking, especially if you're using a foreign oven in a foreign environment! I liked it the dark brown crusts though ;p Do also try to make your cuts deeper. I made pretty shallow cuts and this was the result after proofing the second time.
  • Taste: I liked the proportions of my bun - 30g of not-so-sweet red bean paste to 60g of bread dough. I would however recommend using 40g or more red bean paste because as you can see, besides needing more work on my 'putting the red bean ball in the centre' skill, the red bean filling is quite stingy.  
  • Texture: I didn't have the benefit of a mixer or bread machine, so I made the buns completely by hand. Because it was cold in Sydney and because I was lazy, I did not knead the buns until the 'window pane' test could be passed. This meant that the bread is not as elastic as it should be - you can see from the photo above that the bun does not have that many gluten strands. Also, because it was winter, the buns took twice as long to proof - I made the dough the night before and thanks to the chilly night, it took about 6 hours to double in size.
  • Serving size: This recipe makes a really nice rectangular hokkaido loaf but I would think a portion of 8 red bean buns would be ideal for any family too! :]
  • Storage: Because of the high fat content of the buns, they keep quite well. I would think they should keep for at least 3 days at room temperature. I kept one bun in the fridge and reheated it a week later and it still tasted pretty good.
  • Would I make this again?: I would definitely make this recipe whenever I have excess cream! I personally prefer leaner breads but most people I know and those who ate the buns liked the rich and buttery taste of the bun, so I guess if you're looking for a sweet bun recipe, this is it! 


Amelia said...

Hi Janine, thanks for sharing your pictures. Look beautiful.

Your flower bread look excellent and very pretty. The texture look cottony soft. The slightly over baked it's ok, still taste good with coffee.

Have a nice day, regards.

Angie's Recipes said...

Love these soft filled buns. Great for breakfast too.
I would love to visit Luna park too!

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